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What are the data protection implications of homeworking?

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) announce new guidance in light of coronavirus.

The ICO is providing new guidance to organisations regarding data protection and coronavirus, which can be accessed here: https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/data-protection-and-coronavirus/

The ICO has stated the following:

Data protection is not a barrier to increased and different types of homeworking. During the pandemic, staff may work from home more frequently than usual and they can use their own device or communications equipment. Data protection law doesn’t prevent that, but you’ll need to consider the same kinds of security measures for homeworking that you’d use in normal circumstances.”

Whether you work from home or in the office, you still need to comply with data protection laws. While you need to process personal data with the same care you use in the office, the home working environment throws up specific data protection concerns particularly in respect of data security. You should make sure you have a home working policy which deals with data protection and these data security issues.

 Organisations must ensure that, for staff who can work from home, their obligations in respect of processing personal data are clearly communicated. Organisations may already have a home working policy – if this is the case, then this should be reviewed to ensure it remains relevant and up-to-date for practices during this pandemic.

Related FAQs

Should I stop paying my commercial rent?

Commercial leases generally prevent a tenant from withholding payments of rent. If a tenant stops paying rent there will be a breach of the tenant’s covenant to pay rent which, strictly speaking, will entitle the landlord to forfeit the lease and/or seek to recover the arrears in the courts. 

However, on 23 March 2020, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government announced that all commercial tenants in England, Wales and Northern Ireland missing rent payments are to benefit from a government ban on forfeiture of their lease. This change, which will prevent landlords from terminating leases and evicting commercial tenants, is included in the Coronavirus Bill. It will come into force very shortly (once the Coronavirus Bill receives Royal Assent, which is expected to be in a matter of days) and will last until 30 June 2020, with an option for the government to extend this deadline.

It is anticipated that many commercial tenants will take advantage of the reprieve and withhold their rent. Importantly note the rules will apply not only to principal rent but to “any sum a tenant is required to pay”, leaving the burden of supplying services and insuring the premises on landlords.

It is also important to note however that the protection offered by the government is from the threat of forfeiture should tenants withhold rental payments. The liability to pay the rent however remains an interest on unpaid rents will accrue. Furthermore, remedies other than forfeiture may be pursued by the landlord e.g. service of a statutory demand before insolvency or ordinary litigation proceedings for arrears etc.. Tenants then ideally should look to reschedule or suspend rental payment through discussions with their landlord.       

The advantage of this being you might be able to negotiate a sensible and manageable repayment program in respect of the suspended rent, free of the threat of litigation.

What agreements will the CMA choose not to take enforcement action in respect of?

CMA guidance suggests that it will not take enforcement action in respect of agreements which:

  • Are appropriate and necessary to avoid a shortage, or ensure security, of supply
  • Are clearly in the public interest
  • Contribute to the benefit or wellbeing of consumers
  • Deal with critical issues that arise as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic
  • Last no longer than is necessary to deal with these critical issues
What is the minimum period for Flexible Furlough?

It has now changed. Instead of being 3 weeks, it is now technically any period. However, 7 days is the minimum claim period you can now make.

When does Flexible Furlough start?

The Flexible Furlough Scheme was introduced from 1 July 2020 and is due to come to an end on 30 September 2021.

What happens if a patient is admitted to hospital during the pandemic?